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ROAD TRIP STYLE: THE CONSERVATIONIST TRAVELER

Trail Blazing The Outrageous Outdoors

Conservationist-minded travelers will enjoy these suggestions on where to explore the great outdoors. Pack your gear for this vacation, because here in Visalia, adventure is 'in our nature.'  Try one of these outdoor excursions that explores the area's scenic public lands. Fuel up for your adventure with a hearty breakfast or, after a day of outdoor activity, unwind with dinner and a late-evening stroll in downtown Visalia.  

Dining & Take Out

Many restaurants offer curbside pick up or delivery so that you can get your favorite meal with ease. 

Need suggestions?

When you ride the Kaweah River's Main Fork you'll experience thrilling rapids and steep drops- Mother Nature's own roller coaster ride! The Kaweah river roars down from the Sierra Nevada mountains making it an ideal rafting location. Some local outfitters include: 

Kaweah Whitewater Adventures
Sequoia Adventures
More Outdoor Adventure

Just outside the gate to Sequoia National Park is Lake Kaweah. It sits at the mouth of the Kaweah River that flows from high in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Sequoia National Park. It was established to collect the snow melt and provide water storage for the many farms in this agriculturally rich area, holding about 185,000 acre feet of water. As the lake water is released, it begins its path to irrigate the many crops that grow in the Central Valley. But Outdoor enthusiasts gather here for the many recreational uses it provides like boating, fishing, and swimming.

Downstream from the lake, local conservationists offer Kaweah Oaks Preserve as an example of how this area looked before the lake was created. With oaks trees crowded along the banks of the rivers and streams, visitors can hike through the riparian oak forest to experience the Tulare County prairie as it was 200 years ago. 

Kaweah Oaks Preserve

Kaweah Oaks Preserve, a 344-acre nature preserve, protects one of the last remaining valley oak riparian forests in the San Joaquin Valley.  When you walk along the trails at Kaweah Oaks Preserve, you can easily imagine how this area looked before it was settled 100 years ago.  More than 300 plant and animal species live, feed or reproduce at the nature preserve, including grey fox, great horned owl, Nuttall's woodpecker, wild grapevines, willow thickets and majestic valley oaks. Choose from several short hikes or do them all. 

This property is managed by Sequoia Riverlands Trust, a non-profit organization. Please check here for open dates and times. 

Lake Kaweah

Just minutes from Visalia is Lake Kaweah, a reservoir fed by three mighty rivers that converge and flow from Sequoia National Park. The Lake offers many options for recreation including fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and wildlife viewing. The well equipped Marina offers boat rentals from small skiffs to large patio boats, great for an all-day summertime adventure. 

The Slick Rock recreation area is a popular location. With barbecue grills, picnic tables, fishing, and of course gorgeous views of the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, it is the perfect spot for a day at the lake.

The lake is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. For operating schedule, check here.

Lake Kaweah Visitor Center

Don't forget to stop in at the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center at Lemon Hill. Helpful staff can provide brochures and information about the area. Exhibits tell the story of the building of the dam as well as the history of the native people that lived here. The bedrock mortar just outside the center shows the grinding holes used by the long ago residents.

Just east of Visalia sits some of the most beautiful public lands in California. Not only are there two adjacent national parks, but there are also national forest and national monument lands. And all of it is just waiting to be explored.

What is the difference between these designations? National parks tend to be large swaths of land that protect a variety of resources, including natural and historic features. National parks strive to keep landscapes unimpaired for future generations while offering recreation opportunities like hiking and fishing.

National forests are usually near national parks and often offer just as remarkable landscapes. They are designed for multiple uses including lumber, grazing, minerals and recreation. In Tulare County, Sequoia National Forest has several different access points and provides a variety of recreational opportunities like hiking and fishing but also horse back riding, off-road vehicle use and more. National Forests also can be a bit more pet friendly, with leashed dogs allowed on most trails.

National monuments protect a specific natural, cultural or historic feature.

All three of these public lands are available for recreational use and travelers to Visalia can explore them all.  

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is home to some of the largest sequoia trees but it also has one of the deepest canyons in North America. The drive into the canyon offers some of the most dramatic views of the soaring granite cliffs that line the canyon while it follows along the mighty Kings River. Many visitors don’t take the time to explore this area of the park and so miss out on one of the most beautiful and peaceful parts of Kings Canyon National Park. 

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest stretches below and around Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and offers a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. From the Trail of 100 Giants at its southern point to Boyden Cavern and the Monarch Wilderness further north, this diverse park offers many opportunities for recreation. Many groves of giant sequoias can be found throughout the Sequoia National Forest.

Sequoia National Park: Mineral King

Take a scenic drive to Mineral King in Sequoia National Park for sweeping views and vistas of the East Fork of the Kaweah River and adjacent mountains. The road is not for the faint of heart, but some of the nation’s most stunning high country waits to reward visitors who make the trek. Though the road is only about 25 miles long, the drive can take up to an hour and a half. For more information visit https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/mkdayhikesum.htm

Shop With Sequoia Park Conservancy

If you are looking for special items to remind you of your outdoor adventure, the Sequoia Park Conservancy's e-commerce site has a large selection of specialty items, National Park items and more. When you buy here, you are supporting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  

Shop Now


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©2020 Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 2734 Visalia, CA 93279
112 E Main St, Visalia, CA 93291
(800) 524-0303 : (559) 334-0141